Have you heard the news? Redbridge Labour has won a seat in Roding! That’s right – Roding! Who would have thought it? Well, clearly confident Labour activist and now Councillor Lloyd Duddridge did.
Last month Councillor Duddridge (or ‘local Lloyd’ as he came to be known) became the latest addition to the Redbridge Labour group following the by-election in Roding ward triggered by the resignation of Conservative Councillor Sarah Blaber (Sarah, if you’re reading this it’s now safe to unblock me on Twitter). Councillor Duddridge’s ‘convincing margin’ put him 778 votes ahead of his nearest competitor – former Conservative Councillor Ruth Clark – and has pushed up the Labour group’s numbers from 35 to 36. It is worth bearing in mind that in the 2014 local elections the Labour Party came in third place in Roding ward behind both the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives. The opposition parties on Redbridge Council now consist of only 3 Liberal Democrats and 24 Conservatives.
As is the usual case with the ‘in conversation with‘ series, I took the opportunity to put some questions to Lloyd:
How does it feel to be a newly elected Councillor?
“In many ways it reminds me of the first days at university. Ready and excited to learn, from people who have been there and done it. Yet with a confident and idealistic feeling that a Labour administration can and will improve Redbridge. Full of wonder, and yet ready to get stuck in.”
What motivated you to become a Councillor?
“The fact that I was frustrated at many things in the local area and was not prepared to be a bystander. I have always been motivated by the William James quote: “Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.” Passivity is often complicity.
I also wanted to be the person who could prove that this Labour council that has fairness at its core is a popular one. I think we have managed that. Plus I have probably turned into the political version of Don Quixote from reading too many biographies of Nye Bevan.”
If it wasn’t a by-election would your result have been any different?
Yes, we would have had two extra Labour councillors. Roll on 2018.
Were there any particular high and low moments during the election?
“The high point I think was my first leaflet. I think all politicians have a certain level of vanity, it appears right across the eons from Pericles to Dennis Skinner. So it was nice to see myself on the front of a piece of literature. It made a change from seeing Wes’ face on a leaflet anyway.
As for a low moment, I think it must be the local Tories spiteful and misguided campaign to paint me as an anti-semite. It was the toxic cocktail of being both nasty and also stupid. However, as a good Jewish boy I know how important the principle of teshuvah (forgiveness) is so I am willing to forgive and forget.”
What are you most looking forward to over the next 2 years?
“Representing people that are often left behind and marginalised should always be a natural instinct for a Labour politician. In Roding that group of people has been those living on the Orchard estate. I want to make sure that those living on the estate feel that they are an important part of Woodford life. If I am able to do that, then I would consider my first term a success.
Alongside that I am excited about keeping all my pledges from the campaign. Plus a swimming pool in the west of the borough would be nice – are you listening Jas?”
If you could wave a magic wand and change things, what would you hope to change the most for people in Redbridge?
“I would like them to be living under a Government that offered people a basic income so that we could see some basic rationality in the labour market. I want people to have more time spent doing the things that satisfy and enrich their life than they currently have. Nietzsche said: “We should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once.” I suppose that quote in essence is my politics. If you are not in politics to allow people to have a more fulfilling life, then in my opinion you are doing it wrong.”
What did you think about the Queen’s Speech?
“Apart from being repulsed by the inherent conservative nature of the pomp of the whole event, I felt it was a lukewarm effort from a party who is obviously more interested in a referendum that we did not need. Michael Gove had some interesting things to say about prisons, however after alienating the whole of the teaching profession he did have some making up to do.”
How can residents find out more about you and your council work?
“I suppose the best way is through my Facebook page, Lloyd Duddridge Councillor for Roding ward, like my page people. Always willing to have a chat, plus I am sure the people of Roding will consistently see me on the doorstep.”
Readers can view Lloyd’s public Redbridge Council profile here.